The best packed-lunch advice


When I started high school I had just moved from Berkshire to Yorkshire. This is like moving from Chicago to a community of blob sculpins under the sea. What I mean is that people are different in these two places. Berkshire is richer and Yorkshire is prouder.

On my first day I find out that there is a lunch routine that none of us know. A lady is explaining it to the 200 new starters. She says “People with pack-ups come forward now.”

I tried to hide the panic I felt. What is a pack-up? Is it a membership only club? Where would I get one from? Will I still be allowed to eat lunch if I don’t know what that means?

I took the cowardly decision to stay put. I didn’t ask anyone – I just stood there. It turns out that I did have a pack-up and I should have gone forward.

Yorkshire doesn’t like the term “packed lunch”. I was embarrassed but nothing bad actually happened. Because the biggest problem related to packing your own lunch isn’t cultural.

It’s this piece of wisdom:

Packed lunches are always difficult and often sad to eat. There is no easy fix.

I love a sandwich. Not a specific sandwich, that’s called objectophilia. I just love to make and eat sandwiches in general. But as soon as I put that sandwich in a box and carry it around until lunch. It turns into something else…

...It turns into sad sandwich

…It turns into sad sandwich

Sad sandwich is nothing like the thing I made. He feels like warm sponge and smells slightly of wet shoes. Sad sandwich could write a whole thesis about lost youth and life’s hardships.

At home I would enjoy a ham salad sandwich with crispy lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and obviously ham. The bread would be fresh, the salad would be crunchy and I would be happy. But if i rattled and stewed that in a box for hours it would be a different beast. The cucumber and the tomatoes would make the bread soggy and that would ruin my day.

So how can you beat the packed lunch blues?

You have to first accept that it’s difficult and use that as motivation to excel.

Here are some options:

Use equipment
Do you have access to a microwave, a fridge or a stove? Use them appropriately and your lunch will be better. Reheat last night’s dinner, have a cold milkshake and cook yourself some beans. But not on the same day. If you think this is cheating then you probably have some weird loyalty issues.

Cheap and easy
Lose the taste battle in exchange for money and time. I’ve recently been buying big baguettes at the weekend, making five ham and cheese sandwiches and then freezing them. Each morning I take one out of the freezer and it’s ready to go. They taste pretty fresh but very samey. This method does however makes me the master of time and money.

Set your Japanese side loose and go crazy for interesting looking food. This will make you stand out but you probably don’t mind that. Bring your chop sticks for extra hipster bonus points. Though really if you can afford to get decent sushi you should follow my next tip.

Buy your lunch every day
I dream of such things and once a week I taste the glory. Me and my wife budget for a lunch out most weeks and it is incredible. You can make packed lunches good but it costs you time. This way costs you money but you can eat whatever you like without any effort. It’s like having a butler.

It truly is the dream and if we’re anything on this blog, we’re dreamers.

In fact, Steve is living the dream right now. He gets his lunch made for him as a bonus part of his employment. It’s like his job is his mum.

Jon out.

P.S. If you were looking for a halloween post – scroll down to the killing kittens one…